“Tyler Stephenson, what are you doing out of your bed watching TV?” Mom asked.
“Well, I was getting tired of lying in bed. I needed to get up and do something,” Tyler replied.
“But this morning you said you felt too sick to go to school,” reminded Mrs. Stephenson. “Are you feeling better now? Should I take you to school?”
“Oh no, Mom. I’m feeling way too sick for that,” Tyler answered.
“Then you need to get back to bed this instant,” insisted his mother.
“Aw, Mom, can’t I finish watching this cartoon?” Tyler begged.
“No, young man. Get back in bed now.” Tyler’s mother was using her I-mean-business tone, and Tyler knew he shouldn’t argue further. The boy went back to his room and crawled under the covers.
Tyler had two bad problems. The first problem was he loved to watch TV a little too much. But the worst problem that Tyler had was that he was dishonest to his mother. Sometimes he told her that he was sick so he could stay home and watch TV or play video games instead of going to school.
Later in the morning when Tyler thought his mother would be too busy washing clothes to notice him, he snuck down to the den and turned on the TV once more. This time he turned the volume down very low so Mom wouldn’t be able to hear him. But the cartoons he was watching were so wacky that his laughter could be heard clear down in the laundry room.
“Young man, what is the meaning of this?” demanded his mother. “Now you get back to bed this instant!”
“Yes, ma’am,” Tyler replied meekly as he pushed the “OFF” button on the remote. However, after the school bus returned with his brother and sister, Tyler was soon back on the couch in the den watching TV. He was doing something that too many kids do. It’s called “playing sick.”
There are at least three problems with playing sick:
1. It’s dishonest.
2. You can get behind in school.
3. Once your parents suspect you’re faking it, they may require you to go to school when you really are sick.
A couple of weeks later, when Monday morning rolled around, Tyler felt lousy. He told his mother that he felt sick, just as he always did when he pretended to be sick.
“Mom, I don’t feel good,” he moaned.
“Now, Tyler, you’re not ill,” his mother insisted. “You’re just playing sick so you can stay home and watch TV. But it’s not going to work this time.”
“But, Mom, I really am sick this time!” the boy pleaded.
“Honey, I’d love to believe you, but you’ve pretended to be sick so many times that I’m really not sure whether you’re telling me the truth this time,” responded his mother.
“But I really am sick this time, Mom!” Tyler insisted.
Mrs. Stephenson sighed. “Well, Dr. Moore’s office is on the way to school. It’s a pretty day outside, so let’s walk to the doctor’s office and see what he has to say. If he says you’re well, then we’ll just walk the rest of the way to school.”
It wasn’t easy for Tyler to get dressed that morning. He moaned and he groaned as he put on his clothes. Oh, how he wished he had never played sick! If his mother hadn’t suspected him of being untruthful, he probably wouldn’t have to get dressed and go to the doctor’s office.
Finally Tyler and his mother were on their way. Tyler was bent over and walked very slowly because of the awful pain in his stomach. At last they arrived at Dr. Moore’s office.
“So, Tyler, how long has your stomach hurt?” questioned Dr. Moore.
“Well, just since I woke up this morning,” he replied.
“Does it hurt here?”
“Does it hurt here?”
“How about here?” questioned the doctor.
“Ouch!” Tyler howled.
“H’mmm,” Dr. Moore said thoughtfully. “I think we should run some tests on you. You may have appendicitis.”
“W-what does that mean?” Tyler asked shakily.”
“Well, for one thing, it means that we might have to remove your appendix,” responded Dr. Moore. “But as I said, first we’ll have to run some tests.”
The test results showed that Tyler would indeed need to have his appendix removed.
A couple of days after the surgery, while Tyler lay in the hospital bed, he thought of how sick he had felt the morning his mother had brought him to the doctor.
“See, Mom, I really was sick when you brought me to Dr. Moore’s office,” he pointed out.
“Yes, you were. And I’m sorry I made you walk the three blocks to his office that day,” apologized his mother. “But what about all those other times when you said you were sick?”
Tyler hung his head. He had some apologizing to do also.
“Mom, you’re right. All those other times I said I was sick, I was only pretending so I could stay home and watch TV,” Tyler admitted. It felt good for Tyler to tell his mother the truth.
It had hurt Tyler to walk to the doctor’s office that morning, but it hurt him even more to be untruthful to his mother, especially when it caused her not to trust him. As Tyler thought about that, he made a decision right then. He decided that he would never again play sick. Trust is a lot more important than TV.
Written by Ron Reese
Illustrated by David Barneda